Quantcast

Kingsport man stood guard over JFK's casket 50 years ago - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Kingsport man stood guard over JFK's casket 50 years ago

Posted: Updated:
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • June Mugshots - Northeast Tennessee

    June Mugshots - Northeast Tennessee

    Thursday, July 10 2014 5:30 PM EDT2014-07-10 21:30:26 GMT
    Gregory A. DarnellGregory A. Darnell
    The following are mugshots of individuals arrested on a variety of charges in June by local authorities in Northeast Tennessee.
    The following are mugshots of individuals arrested on a variety of charges in June by local authorities in Northeast Tennessee.

  • Tornado Watch continues, likely tornado in Washington, Sullivan Co.'s

    Tornado Watch continues, likely tornado in Washington, Sullivan Co.'s

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:44 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:44:10 GMT
    Viewers captured and pictures of what appeared to be a rope tornado touching down in Washington County, TN.Viewers captured and pictures of what appeared to be a rope tornado touching down in Washington County, TN.
    A powerful storm system spawned a tornado and left behind a trail of damaged through in several Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia Counties.The worst of the damage appears to be in the Gray and Rock Springs area of Washington County where viewers captured video and pictures of what appeared to be a tornado.
    A powerful storm system spawned a tornado and left behind a trail of damaged through in several Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia Counties.The worst of the damage appears to be in the Gray and Rock Springs area of Washington County where viewers captured video and pictures of what appeared to be a tornado.
  • Boone's Creek neighborhood cleaning up after strong storms

    Boone's Creek neighborhood cleaning up after strong storms

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:05 AM EDT2014-07-28 04:05:47 GMT
    Folks who live on Wiltshire Drive in the Boone’s Creek community surveyed the damage left behind after Sunday’s storms.Almost every house on the street sustained some kind of damage. Many of the people who live on the street said they didn’t think the storms were that serious until they heard the winds pick up.“I looked up in the trees and I just saw a lot of leaves like a funnel cloud… I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” John Walton, a resident of Wiltshire Drive, told us.“As fas...
    Folks who live on Wiltshire Drive in the Boone’s Creek community surveyed the damage left behind after Sunday’s storms.Almost every house on the street sustained some kind of damage. Many of the people who live on the street said they didn’t think the storms were that serious until they heard the winds pick up.“I looked up in the trees and I just saw a lot of leaves like a funnel cloud… I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” John Walton, a resident of Wiltshire Drive, told us.“As fas...
KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) -

Most anyone who was alive 50 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news.

For Jim McClellan of Kingsport, the news meant a somber duty assignment. McClellan and 19 other men would stand guard over the body of one of the nation's most beloved leaders once it returned to the nation's capitol.

McClellan was 26 years old, stationed at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Air Force Honor Guard.

He was washing his car when he heard the news come across the radio.

"After a few minutes it came across the loud speaker on the base," says McClellan, "all of us were to report back."

He was at the White House when JFK's family arrived with his casket.

"When Jackie and Robert came in with the casket, Jackie still had blood on her dress," he recalls, "I heard Jackie say something to Robert, then Robert said the casket will stay closed."

For the next three days, McClellan got very little sleep, as the guards worked 15 to 30 minute shifts, at the footsteps of history.

"You couldn't blink... if you blinked, you didn't have another shift," McClellan says, "you could let the tears fall down, but you couldn't wipe them... I had tears all the time."

He was on duty for perhaps the most poignant moment of that somber week, when 3-year-old John F. Kennedy, Jr. saluted his slain father's casket.

"It was probably the saddest part of that funeral," McClellan recalls, "the Navy guy that stood across from me, the tears coming out of his eyes looked like a water faucet, and all of us had tears in our eyes."

McClellan left the Honor Guard shortly afterward, and later served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

He returned to the Honor Guard a few years later, but said it was never the same for him.

"I didn't enjoy it," he says, "It was different, everything had changed."

Copyright 2013 WJHL. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.